Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lessons Learned

Update from my son Alexander in the MTC. He said he hasn't taken a single photo since being there, but said he is finally charging his camera and will send me some next week. He sure better!
Alexander and our bishop on the day he was set apart

First of all, to those who were not included in last weeks email, I'm sorry that I hadn't added you to the list. Second, if you know someone that might want weekly emails from me, please send me their addresses; we both thank you for you help.
This week's message is entitled "Lessons Learned," and for good reason. Last Friday, the day after my Preparation day, I contracted the flu, the cold, whatever you want to call it, and as a result of it going to my Larynx, I got Laryngitis. I lost my voice, and couldn't speak at all, unless I really strained to get out a quiet whisper; worse still, I couldn't sing! As a result of my vocal arrest, I needed alternate means of communications, naturally. So imagine my dismay when I realized that I should have taken ASL classes in high school. I only had finger spelling to rely on, and even then I couldn't remember the letter "q" for the life of me; not that it mattered considering the only person in my district who knew any ASL was a Sister missionary, and even then she only knew finger spelling (I say finger spelling, but I'm not too sure if that's the correct term.... oh well!); besides that, I only met two people who knew ASL, and I wasn't going to be able to have any of them tag along with me to interpret what I was saying. Nevertheless, I really wish I had known more ASL because it is a useful thing to know. 
I found out that there are some missions that are encouraged to learn JSL (Japanese Sign Language), so I'm going to commit myself to that as soon as I can! After only a small amount of time being mute, I already have so much more respect for those of us whose only way of communicating is ASL or other sign languages, and I don't want the message I have to share to be limited to my vocal voice; "the sound of a trump" is meant to be heard by every ear, even if that ear happens to be the eyes
Besides not having a voice, I really can't complain about anything. I love it here. I've all but forgotten that Earth is more than just MTC campus and the Provo Temple, and that's not a bad thing for focusing on the work. That being said, I can't say that all of you haven't been on my mind and in my prayers. I wish you all the best, and if God allows something bad to happen, just remember: "it is for thy benefit"*
Love you all with all my heart!
Elder
*Disclaimer: This passage of scripture was cited from memory and not with 100% certainty or accuracy. If there be any mistakes, they are the mistakes of men, and not of God.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My 5L3 Enters the MTC

So it's been almost 2 weeks since my son Alexander entered the MTC. I did a pretty good job with keeping it together for the last week or so when I thought I would be sobbing uncontrollably. Well, that is except for when our Stake President asked me to say the prayer at Alex's setting apart. Why would you make the mom speak at all? We got to spend time with family and he let me take more photos than he usually does.
My parents with Alex the night before he left
 
 
Before we dropped him off, we stopped at the Provo temple for photos, where almost everyone stops for photos. Lots of people, lots of cameras and lots of hugs and tears all around.
 


 


 
I was checking my email every day, waiting for a letter. On Wednesday, a week after he went in, we received a real letter in the mail, then the next day emails from him. I was so glad to hear from him and was really glad that he said he is getting along well with his companion and other roommates and they are already like family to him.
 
He started his first Japanese language class on his very first day at the MTC and the teacher didn't speak a word of English. He is definitely going to learn quickly. I thought that it was funny that in his short letter to us, he mentioned that they get BYU Creamery ice cream twice a week. I'm kinda hoping he gains a little bit of weight during his 2 month stay there since he could use it.
 
In his letter to us, he wrote, "This week seriously feels like it's been a month, if not longer. Time works so differently here in Narnia. I am so excited to fight on Aslan's side, and hope that one day I'll be able to meet such majestic a Lion."
 
I had thought about starting a new blog just to post his updates, but I decided that I'll just post them here. So here's the email he sent me to share with everyone.
 
Hello everybody!
I have been enjoying my time so much over here in the MTC! The last week flew by yet it feels like I've been here for a long time. I hear that by the end of your stay at the MTC you feel like you were born here, and I am already starting to feel that way!
 
Language study is hard, because they do full immersion classes here (everything is spoken in japanese by the teacher, and he only writes the translations of words on the board), but that just means that I can learn the language quicker! I'm so glad I'm used to that kind of learning from my German classes in high school. Even then, I think I know more about Japanese now than I do about German after two years of classes!
 
As for the spiritual side of things, what isn't there to tell?! All the buildings are dedicated and set apart as holy buildings, so you can feel the spirit strongly everywhere! We have a devotional every Sunday and Tuesday night, and we have some great speakers! And, the choir here is amazing! I love singing in the choir, and I've only done it for two days (practices are Sundays and Tuesdays). This week we sang an arrangement of "Faith of our Fathers". It was so beautiful, and the Music Theory behind the song was cool! (Yay for music nerds! )
 
I have been so focused on learning what I need to learn that I've all but forgotten the outside world. But that's a good thing, because focus is so important in here! They drive you so hard (my first investigator discussion was on the third day of being here! And in full fledged Japanese too!), but the work was never meant to be easy. Just like Elder Holland said in one of his recent talks.
 
A quote that has really helped me while I've been here that was shared during my orientation: "There's little growth in a comfort zone, there's little comfort in a growth zone." I've been feeling the growing pains, and I'm guessing that I'll be feeling them my entire life now, but I don't want a different life! Besides, as long as my focus is on the Lord, he'll make it so that I can bear it. He may not take it away right away in his wisdom, but He will help support me if I follow Him.
You guys are always in my heart and in my prayers!
Love
Elder ::::::: (ใกใ‚‡ใ‚)


So that Japanese word right there is Elder, but it looks like 5 and then a cursive capital L and a 3, so now I'm calling Alex "5L3".  I really miss talking to my 5L3, but there is nowhere else I'd rather him be right now, learning and growing and getting ready to teach his brothers and sisters across the world all about our Savior.

 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creamy Chicken Soup

I'm finally sitting down after a day at work and then coming home to make rolls and this soup. Totally worth it! This soup is full of yummy veggies and isn't difficult to make at all, especially if you use rotisserie chicken. The recipe was at The Cookie Rookie. I didn't use the white wine or turmeric.

 
 
Creamy Chicken Soup
 
Roux:
4 T. flour
2 T. olive oil
2 T, butter, unsalted
 
Soup:
2 T. butter, unsalted
2 T. olive oil
4 stalks carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
4 c. chicken stock or broth
3½ c. milk or cream or Half & Half
2 T. chicken base granules
1 t. fresh cracked pepper
1 T. dried parsley or 2 T fresh parsley
3 bay leaves
1½ t. Herbs of Provence
½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
¼ t. garlic powder or 1 t. chopped garlic
3 c. rotisserie chicken - cubed or shredded and cooked
¼ c. white wine
Shredded gruyere cheese to sprinkle on top after spooning soup into bowls

 
Make the roux by heating the oil and butter in pot then sprinkling the flour on top. whisk together until fully absorbed and turns almost golden. take off the heat and set aside.
 
Chop the vegetables and set aside until ready to saute. In a Dutch oven, saute the vegetables in 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter until softened.
 
Add all other ingredients including the roux, stir well. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to low and let simmer 20-30 minutes until the soup thickens to the desired consistency. Stir every 3-4 minutes. Do not leave the soup unattended.
 
If you need to thicken the soup a little, mix together some cornstarch with milk or water (per box instructions) then stir into the soup. Stir frequently since the soup is milk-based and can burn easily.
Before ready to serve, take out the bay leaves. Pour into bowls and sprinkle with shredded gruyere cheese.

Friday, October 10, 2014

No-Bake Pumpkin Cookies

I have been sad about not blogging for so long, but I don't know if I have any readers left anyway. Just in case I do, I'll give a quick update as to why I haven't been blogging. I graduated with a bachelor in biotechnology in April and enjoyed a bit of time off with my kids this summer before starting a job in a lab at the end of July.

I had the blessing of being a stay-at-home mom for quite a long time and it has been a huge adjustment for me to be a full-time working mom. I do not know how to make the time for everything and I don't deal with stress well.

On top of that, my son is leaving for a mission in Japan this week so we've been doing stuff to get him ready and try to spend time together before he's gone for 2 whole years. I'm so excited for him and I know he'll learn and grow so much while he's gone, but I will really miss him and our conversations and watching his concerts and marching band half-time shows and parades.

I do still cook and bake, but I don't try new recipes as often as I used to and even when I do, I don't have time to blog it. But I'm making time today as I watch Psych with my kids. We made this no-bake cookie recipe recently and while I admit that it won't replace my old regular peanut butter/chocolate no-bake cookies, it's a fun change and a nice new way to use pumpkin. I found this recipe at Reluctant Entertainer

No-Bake Pumpkin Cookies

2 c. sugar
3 T. butter
1/2 c. milk
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice
3/4 c. pumpkin
4 c. quick oatmeal, uncooked
1 c. chocolate chips
 
In a pot, mix the sugar, butter, and milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from the stove and add the pumpkin, salt, vanilla, and spice. Quickly add the oatmeal and mix. Add more or less for the consistency that you want. Toss in the chocolate chips and lightly mix.
 
Drop with small scoop onto parchment paper, on a cookie sheet. Cool the cookies in the refrigerator and let them set before eating.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Temple Education

 
I took my kids up to the LDS Church History Museum and Temple Square in Salt Lake City last week. A couple of different missionaries stopped us and told us things about the temple. I've been there many times before, but am no expert in the history. I learned some new things.
 
Did you know that there used to be lights on each of the spires on the Salt Lake City LDS temple and on a crown on the Angel Moroni? Someone had to climb up on the roof to replace them. In 1930 flood lights started to be used and the spire lights eventually weren't used any more and the crown was removed.
 
I thought I'd look it up online to find more information on that and found an article The Salt Lake Temple by Dean R. Zimmerman (New Era, June 1978) that talked about the lights and even more history. Like...did you know that there are two "record stones" that are like time capsules on the temple? One of them is the ball on which Moroni rests and it has several things inside.
 
"The ball or capstone on which Moroni rests is a second record stone. It contains music composed by C. J. Thomas entitled the “Capstone March”; the “Temple Anthem,” with words by C. L. Walker, music by Evan Stephens; a polished brass plate; as well as the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Voice of Warning, Spencer’s Letters, Key to Theology, a hymn book, a compendium, and some other works. Also sealed in this record stone are pictures or photographs of Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith and a photograph of the Salt Lake Temple as it then stood."
 
I'll let you read the article to find out where the other record stone is in the temple.